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April 1968

Systematic Observations of Autistic Behavior

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles
From the Division of Child Psychiatry, departments of psychiatry (Drs. Sorosky, Ornitz, and Ritvo) and biomathematics (Dr. Brown), UCLA Medical School, Los Angeles.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1968;18(4):439-449. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1968.01740040055007

IN 1943, Kanner published his first description of early infantile autism in which the characteristic features of the illness consisted of a profound withdrawal from contact with people existing "from the beginning of life," an obsessive desire for the preservation of sameness, a skillful and even affectionate relation to objects, the retention of an intelligent and pensive physiognomy, and either mutism or noncommunicative speech.1-3

The syndrome has subsequently become one of the most provocative and controversial targets of psychiatric research, with most of the work being focused in the areas of ego development, personal relations, affect, and language development. In only a few recent studies has serious attention been given to the unusual and stereotyped motor and perceptual behaviors frequently seen in these children. It is our conjecture that these behavioral characteristics are indeed significant and may actually provide a key to

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